Caritas Africa and 9 national Caritas members, Caritas Italiana, the Italian Bishops' Conference and the Banca popolare Etica of Italy participated in the 5th edition of the African Microfinance Week (AMW), SAM (in French) , which is the largest conference dedicated to the development of financial inclusion in Africa, held every two years.
The event served as a pan-African platform for sharing ideas and expertise on all aspects of inclusive finance. The theme of the 2021 edition was "We are not born resilient, we become resilient: Strengthening Inclusive Finance to overcome crises".
Like other sectors, finance was also affected by the recent health crisis in Covid-19 and the resulting restrictive measures had serious economic and social consequences on the livelihoods of vulnerable groups. While the number of cases in Africa remains low compared to other continents, the restrictions have had economic and social consequences.
It is common knowledge that when a global shock occurs, the poor are not only the most likely to be affected, but also the least prepared. Due to low savings capacities, inefficient remittance mechanisms and the poor generally have no financial reserves to cushion their fall.
For Caritas Africa with its partners Caritas Italiana, Italian Episcopal Conference and Banca popolare Etica; as institutions that serve vulnerable people, the SAM has been a means to reinforce the specific objective of the joint project of Supporting the Promotion of Ethical Finance through capacity building of MFIs serving community organizations and civil society in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Boniface Nakwagelewi Ata-Deagbo, Executive Secretary of Caritas Congo ASBL, said that the AMW was an important experience for him and the organization he represented. He said that meeting different African microfinance actors, who live in the same situations and share the same difficulties, allowed them to analyze the gaps and challenges they face in this field and to reflect on better ways to address them.
Mr. Albert MASHIKA, regional coordinator of Caritas Africa, said that the African Microfinance Week enabled the Caritas participants who attended to gain a deeper understanding of microfinance as a means of reducing poverty within the target community, increase their knowledge and capacity through a unified platform by other microfinance actors and to learn and share experiences of challenges and opportunities with other partners.
AMW 2021 was organized by microfinance non-profit organizations such as ADA (Appui au Développement Autonome), MAIN (Microfinance African Institutions Network), AFRACA (Association Africaine du Crédit Rural et Agricole) and AMIR (Association of Microfinance Institutions in Rwanda) with the support of the Rwandan government and the Luxembourg government.